News of the day (April 13, 2011)

 A GeForce GTX 550 Ti ... 2 GB?!
  Posted on 1302731501 by Marc

Club 3D have announced that they are the first to launch a GeForce GTX 500 Ti with 2 GB of memoy. The first and we hope the last as this quantity of memory is absolutely useless on a mid-range card such as the GTX 550 Ti. The cherry on the cake is that it’s an OC Edition, which, like the 1 GB version, has a 920 MHz GPU, up from 900 MHz (a 2.2% overclocking). Sometimes it’s best just not to go there ...

 1st USB 3 chipsets: AMD ahead of Intel
  Posted on 1302730288 by Marc

USB-IF has just announced the first SuperSpeed USB certified chipsets (namely USB 3.0). These are the AMD A70M and A75 chips, which were codenamed Hudson-M3 and Hudson-D3. These chips are in fact the highest end southbridges that accompany the Llano APU on mobile (Sabine platform) and desktop (Lynx platform). Sexing them up a bit, AMD isn’t calling them southbridges but rather FCHs – Fusion Controller Hub.

Unfortunately the only native support for USB 3.0 will be on Llano for some time to come. The next AMD 900 chipsets slated for this quarter will still be USB 2.0, while we’ll have to wait for 2012 to see the series 7 Intel chipsets, the Panther Points, and their 4 USB 3.0 ports.

 AM3+ CPUs on AM3: finally confirmed by AMD!
  Posted on 1302704163 by Marc

Since the announcement of the compatibility of some of their AM3 motherboards with the forthcoming AM3+ processors by ASUS and then MSI , the situation with respect to AM3+ support has been pretty vague. When you look at AM3+ the socket has a different notch which makes you think that AM3+ CPUs would have an additional pin preventing the installation of an AM3+ CPU on an AM3 motherboard, but not the other way round.

The ASUS and MSI announcements made us think however that AM3+ CPUs wouldn’t actually be using this additional pin. For the last few weeks AMD’s official line was that you would need an AM3+ motherboard for official AM3+ CPU support. Unofficially though it has been hard to get an answer out of them.

A week ago we put the question to AMD as clearly as possible and in such a way as to prevent them from continuing to avoid the issue:

“Will AM3+ CPUs (AMD FX / Zambezi) use the additional pin that would make them incompatible with AM3 motherboards?”
We did finally get the answer and it was no. This means that AM3+ CPUs will be physically compatible with AM3, which is what makes the backwards compatibility announced by ASUS and MSI possible (though AMD however insisted on the absence of support, saying that this could affect performance without detailing how). This is, then, very good news!

All that’s left is the issue of the different notch. Why? AMD hasn’t yet replied on this. Our opinion is that there are two possiblilities:

- Either it was initially supposed to be used but was subsequently abandoned
- Or it was never designed for AM3+ CPUs but will serve to make future ‘AM4’ CPUs backwards compatible with AM3+ but not AM3/AM2

 Roundup: 9 Radeon HD 6850s!
  Posted on 1302656095 by Damien

Following the GeForce GTX 460s, we’ve decided to take a look at the customized Radeon HD 6850s. Do they have such an extensive overclocking margin? Which model gives the best overall performance?

> Roundup: 9 Radeon HD 6850s!

 NVIDIA launches the GeForce GT 520
  Posted on 1302646971 by Damien

One week after AMD, it’s over to NVIDIA to put a very low end model on the market. The new GeForce GT 520 doesn’t really replace any of the older range, with NVIDIA’s entry level spread over several generations. It rather completes the list of available models and is positioned between the GeForce GT 220 and the GeForce GT 430.

Basically, this GeForce GT 520 is a low cost version of the GeForce GT 420 reserved for OEMs. While this GT 420 was based on a cut down GPU GF108, with half of its processing units deactivated, the GeForce GT 520 has a new ultra-low end GPU, the GF119. It has 48 processing units and a 64-bit memory bus.

In comparison to the GeForce GT 420, the GeForce GT 520 has 16% more processing power but half the memory bandwidth – it uses one 64-bit bus. Overall then it shouldn’t be down on the GeForce GT 420 or even the GeForce GT 220.

Note that it looks as if the reference clock doesn’t have to be respected by partners. Zotac makes do with an 800 MHz clock while Palit lowers it to 535 MHz, which is likely to make the GeForce GT 520 even more limited.

In any case, this new GeForce hasn’t been designed to do any gaming, but is rather for HTPCs. For €50 it gives full support for video technology and can be produced as a fanless card, as is the case with the Asus version, thanks to its TDP of 29W. It remains to be seen if there’s enough processing power and memory bandwidth to handle high quality videos.

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